The Way You Spend Time Is the Way You Should Be Spending Time

Jill Eng

Think about it, wouldn’t anything else make no sense at all? Aren’t you with yourself every step of the way seeing yourself in the rooms and environments you are occupying physically?

The problem is we don’t identify with ourselves as physical beings as much as conscious something-or-others. But I would like to address this point to anybody who believes in anything.

We can all touch our skin to clarify for ourselves that we are physically present in the space at all times. It may feel like we come and go, but we all intellectually understand that as long as we are alive we are existing physically somewhere.

So I write this for an inclusive audience. Your religion or beliefs do not negate this fact. I try to appeal to any reader on this point. And my goal is to make you feel better about the fact that you are always behaving the only way you possibly could — at the time of occurrence.

Retrospect and memory play tricks on us making us feel like we could have behaved otherwise. But I encourage you to look at any part of your body, hands are easy, any time of day, to remind yourself that you are there.

You may ask,

So what?

Well it’s a big what because of the constant harassment by our thought processes that we are not acting as we should be. Or more commonly experienced, that we should not have behaved as we did in the past.

We don’t always feel that way but for the times we do I offer this awareness.

Look at your hands or even your feet and then make a mental note that all of you is attached to the whole of your body (head included).

We often feel fragmented, lost in our thoughts down some path of desire and frustration. Wishing we were in other circumstances. Or longing for a past we wish were happening now.

Not realizing we are here the whole time.

But when you take a second to affirm that you are physically where you are — look at your hands — you can recognize that what you’re doing right now makes some kind of sense to you considering what you are up against.

(That was also the case in the past when it was now at that time.)

It does not mean you like it. Or that you do not want something else to be happening. I am not trying to talk you out of hopes, goals or dreams that are other than where you presently find yourself.

I merely want to point out that the thing you’re doing every step of the way is the only thing possible because you’re doing it. Even if you are being forced by an external cause, there is still no denying that that is the case.

It is what’s happening.

The word should is a funny concept and maybe I’m using it in a way you would not consider sensible.

I acknowledge for myself that what is physically happening is the only thing possible because there is no other entity existing on the planet that is the organism I am.

Whatever the prior conditions of this moment — which is continually evolving — is what brought me here. I have been alive the whole time seeing the progression of activity from as early an age as I was able to observe myself.

Different religions, scientific beliefs, and spiritual approaches would address some of what I’m talking about. But I’m trying to bypass all that and get to a mindful reality check that I believe could be universal.

The psychological judgment that we are bad and could somehow be acting otherwise is my focus. I have suffered from it and developed an awareness that rids me of the pain and I long to share that with others.

Tune in to yourself on a moment-to-moment basis. That is pretty much impossible but as often as you can look at your hands and see what they’re doing. Now remind yourself that you know how you got here because of the moment before and before and before.

You may hate your life and be so sad about your history, but the piece of your thinking that brainwashes you that there was another way (at that time) does not need to be part of the equation.

There was never another way because you were there the whole time witnessing how one event transformed into the next. Your person — however you relate to that — was in some physical environment making decisions in the context of what was presented.

The culprit of self-judgment is a mechanism of retrospect that causes guilt and regret. (If you appreciate those emotions I don’t need to talk you out of them.) Nevertheless, during the time you were behaving in a certain way you now regret— whether 10 seconds or 10 years ago — that was the only decision available to you based on your compositional makeup.

In other words it was the one you made.

I’m not preaching a philosophy as much as a mindfulness tool to keep us on track about feeling okay regarding how we get from point A to B to C to D to E, etc.

And if you have been served tragic conditions in your life, which of course many have, it’s not to glorify that or make you feel good about your plight. Only to remove the mental propaganda that you ever had a way to make a different choice than you did.

Even if you can’t accept your lot, perhaps self-compassion would help, and the realization that you’ve always done the best you could considering the cards you were dealt.

Sadness, disappointment, and frustration are hard enough we don’t need to pile on emotions like guilt and regret. They don’t make sense if we never had any options other than what we saw ourself doing.

The question is, were you free to think up something you didn’t think up?

Retrospect will give us the impression we did have other options. But we were there back then — with ourself— like we are here now. Memory tries to steal that truth from our common sense.

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I am a mindfulness author and teacher. I blog on healing from emotional trauma, guilt, anxiety, divorce, relationships, women, writing, parenting, and gratitude.

Portland, ME

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